UK's First Jewish Special Educational Needs Conference Held

NorwoodPartnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS is a Division of the Jewish Leadership Council) and the Board of Deputies hosted the first SEN conference for Jewish schools on Tuesday 6th November at ORT House in London. The conference welcomed around 110 representatives from Jewish schools, including Governors, Head teachers and SENCOs and featured workshops in key areas such as inclusion, legal issues and battling the system.

The morning featured a keynote speech from André Imich, SEN advisor to the DfE, who said: “There is going to be radical change to the landscape of education and public services.” He also advised: “Organisations that promote partnerships in schools are very important today…partnerships really are the only way forward - schools, working with schools”.

David Ereira, Chair of PaJeS SEN working party, who chaired the conference, said: "Every child has the right to reach their full potential and everyone in this room has the ability to make that happen. Over the years, special needs haven’t changed- the only thing that has changed is our ability to recognise them.

Our community has a wealth of expertise, and if we do not share it amongst ourselves, we shall not reach the excellence we are capable of. Partnerships must be the way forward so we can set the standards for others to follow. It’s time we all shared expertise and good practice - we are here to help you all succeed and partnerships seem an easy and economical way forwards.”

Alastair Falk, Executive Director of Partnerships for Jewish Schools, commented that “Partnerships are the way forward. This Government is giving much more power to schools just as resources are becoming more limited. This makes it all the more urgent that schools are helped and enabled to work together, a fundamental reason behind setting up Partnerships for Jewish Schools.  Seeing so many Heads, Governors and teachers from across the community at a conference that itself brought key organisations together, bodes well for a coordinated response to the future of the community's special needs children and their families. As the new legislation hits, we are well placed to devise new ways of working with schools for families”.

Elaine Kerr, Chief Executive at Norwood said: "Norwood is delighted that so many representatives from across the Jewish educational spectrum were able to come together for this very important conference.  It is clear that we should focus on pioneering future partnerships within the Jewish educational community and we’re looking forward to working closely with colleagues in the community as we develop Norwood’s Educational Services. “

Susan Pascoe, the Vice Chair of the Board’s Community Issues Division commented, “The Board has supported SEN teachers for many years, but this is the first time that a national conference has been organised to enable Headteachers, SENCos and Special Needs Governors to meet the challenges of change as well as to network and exchange expertise. It is a huge step forward and will see concrete benefits for those who rely on the skills of dedicated workers in the Jewish schools sector."